I first learned about the Law of Averages selling books door-to-door for several summers during my college years. I found that if I gave my sales talk about 30 times a day, that on average, I could expect to make 3 or 4 sales, sometimes more. It was hard getting all those nos. However, I discovered that if I persisted, I would succeed. I also discovered that the concept of the law of averages can apply to many other areas of life.
Parable of the Sower
Some important lessons that come from our Orality Training are about the seed and soil, and sowing and reaping that we learn from the teaching of Jesus. In the parable of the Sower, recorded in the Gospels, Jesus explained to His disciples that the Seed represents the Word of God. He pointed out that the four different kinds of soil represent the conditions of people’s hearts. Some have hard hearts, some shallow hearts, others have crowded hearts, and some have fertile hearts. When the seed falls on fertile soil, it produces 30, 60 or 100 times what is sown.
What about the Law of Averages?
When we sow the seed of the Word of God, we can expect different kinds of responses. Over the years I’ve observed that, on average, one out of four of those I’ve shared with will respond positively. It’s another way of thinking about the law of averages. My wife and I try to be intentional in reaching out to our neighbors, those we encounter in shopping malls, farmers markets and other public places. It has been our experience that out of about ten people we greet or interact with, on average, three or four will be open for a more substantive conversation. Of course, those usually take on a spiritual nature.
The Heart of the Human Problem
When we think of witness and ministry efforts, we can expect that the majority, perhaps 3 out of 4, will not be fertile soil or have open and receptive hearts. However, if we are consistent in making the effort, we will connect with those who have receptive hearts. One of my favorite former pastors, Dr. Adrian Rogers use to say, “The heart of the human problem is the problem of the human heart.” It is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. That is the unregenerate heart. The Good News is that God is prepared to give us a new heart and new spirit.
Different Ways of Sowing
It’s liberating to know that we are not responsible for how people respond. However, it is our responsibility, and privilege, as Christ-followers to be witnesses and give them an opportunity to say “Yes” to Jesus. When we consider all the different ways of sowing the seed of God’s Word, we should be aware of the unlimited and creative capacity of the Holy Spirit. This past week I simply commented about a man’s ball cap, and it opened a conversation about spiritual matters. A security guard approached me as I was taking a picture of a building. I introduced myself and it opened a conversation. He began explaining to me about his Islamic beliefs. That led to our talking about what the Quran says about Isa al-Masih (Jesus the Messiah).
Simple Ways to Connect
So often a simple greeting, a compliment or question can lead to a Jesus conversation. It can happen in a shopping mall, a farmers market, a medical center, a grocery store, or wherever we encounter people. Those normal traffic patterns can become ministry opportunities when we are alert to them. Those brief encounters and conversations have often resulted in long term relationships. Some of my best friends are those I met by approaching them with the aim of sharing the gospel with them.
The Cutting Edge of the Great Commission
Our calling, as ambassadors of Christ and ministers of reconciliation, is to make disciples. However, in most cases it begins by communicating the Good News of Jesus first. The cutting edge of the Great Commission is introducing people to a relationship with Jesus. The Holy Spirit is faithful to give direction for next steps. A friend and I shared the gospel and led a homeless man to the Lord on the streets of Washington D.C. Since he had no phone number or address that we could follow up with him I gave him the contact information of a Salvation Army officer friend. A year later I reconnected with my friend and he told me that the homeless man was then running one of their mission centers in DC. It was a wonderful demonstration of the power of the gospel to transform a life.
Power of the Word of God
Over the years I’ve encountered believers who say something like, “I don’t have the gift of evangelism.” That sometimes seems to be a reason for not sharing with others. I like to remind people that it’s not a gift, but the gospel that is the power of God unto salvation. Any weak vessel can be a container of Deity and a messenger of the love and truth of the Lord Jesus. In our Orality domain, we emphasize that you don’t have to be a great storyteller, because we have great stories to tell. It’s the Word of God that touches hearts and changes lives.
Orality in Business
In recent years we’ve seen an emerging business as mission or marketplace ministries phenomenon. We’ve also seen how the many applications of Orality Training can enhance those efforts. There are various oral learner friendly methods of sharing the message and making disciples of Jesus in the various sectors of the corporate and business world. Furthermore, the concepts of orality are also improving skills of communication, team building, leadership development and more. Kingdom building (the Great Commission) is the primary objective of the Orality in Business Network. However, there are many other benefits, such as addressing conflict resolution, trauma therapy, racial reconciliation and others.
Whatever we Sow, Is What we will Reap
When it comes to our mandate to communicate the gospel to everyone, and make disciples among all people groups, sowing and reaping should be a guiding principle. Obviously, the more we sow the seed of God’s Word into the lives of others, the greater will be the fruit and impact. Where there is little sowing, there will be little reaping.
Cultural Value Systems
On our Orality journey we are recognizing the multi-cultural aspects of our mission. Understanding cultural value systems and learning preferences is vital. In a place like Houston (now the most ethnically-diverse city in the USA) we have many Oral preference learners. The nations (people groups) of the world are among us, and it’s important to communicate God’s message according to the receptor culture or ethnic group.
We’ve found that asking questions, listening and building relationships is a powerful approach, regardless of a person’s ethnic or racial background. The old adage, “People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care” is an important concept to keep in mind. A co-worker of mine use to say, “Whatever we sow into the lives of others, will come back into our own.”
Jerry Wiles is President Emeritus of Living Water International and serves on the advisory council and leadership team of the International Orality Network. He can be reached at: [email protected].